Supporters step up efforts to promote EPIC tax option
By Fred Knapp , Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
Nov. 20, 2023, midnight ·
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A group that wants to abolish property and income taxes in Nebraska is stepping up its efforts to get on next year’s election ballot.
Until now, it’s been all volunteers circulating petitions for the so-called EPIC option tax. EPIC stands for ending property, income and corporate taxes. Advocates wants to replace them with a consumption tax – a sales tax on services and all new purchases, excluding groceries. Monday, supporters said they’re hiring a petition signature collection company to get more signatures in the state’s urban areas. Sen. Steve Erdman, a leading backer of the effort, said it will cost around $1 million, to be funded by contributions.
Steve Jessen, the group’s volunteer coordinator, talked about the people of the state, often referred to as the “Second House” of Nebraska’s one house Legislature.
“We’re gonna get this done, because we are the Second House, and the Second House is not happy with the way our current tax system is,” Jessen said.
Last year, the state’s 5.5 percent sales tax brought in about $3 billion, while income and property taxes together netted about 9 billion. Supporters of abolishing income and property taxes claim that by getting rid of exemptions, the sales tax rate could remain in the 7 percent range. But Bryan Slone, president of the state Chamber of Commerce, disputes that.
“Instead of the advertised 7 percent rate, you’d end up (with) something that we’ve all estimated at somewhere between 15 and 20 percent,” Slone said at a forum last week. Other analysts have projected an even higher rate.
Supporters have until July to collect signatures from 10 percent of the state’s registered voters to put their proposal on the ballot next November.